Morbid and droll in the manner of several other recent Scandinavian exports, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared rarely manages to also be funny.
Allan Karlsson, the centenarian in question, is played by 49-year-old Robert Gustafsson. Old age has made his character no less of a hellion; Felix Herngren’s adaptation of the bestselling Jonas Jonasson novel begins with our hero being shipped off to a nursing home after TNT’ing the fox that killed his beloved cat Molotov, whom he proudly proclaims meant more to him than anyone else in his life.
Allan liberates himself from his geriatric confines shortly thereafter, happening upon a briefcase stuffed with cash at a bus station and gaining a much younger enemy in the process. As he goes about his exploits, the young-at-heart troublemaker tells us of his eventful life by way of wry voiceover (in English, somewhat confusingly, as most of the film is in Swedish). This includes a distinctly Forrest Gump–like tour of the twentieth century complete with cameos by the likes of Einstein and Stalin, not to mention several reminders of Allan’s lifelong affinity for explosions.
The various tragedies he’s witnessed and directly experienced have instilled in him a tendency to play everything for laughs — it’s all fair game here, from the firing squads of yesteryear to the suicide bombers of today, but The 100-Year-Old Man‘s equal-opportunity irreverence doesn’t often translate to cleverness.